This I Believe

Jeremy - La Quinta, California
Entered on January 7, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

believe if you are an American resident, legal or otherwise, you must speak and understand English. Nothing is more irritating than being unable to converse with your neighbor or coworker without a translator or trying to motion everything out with your hands.

Being a southern California resident, I realize that the Hispanic population is large and having lived in the Coachella Valley all my life, it is even more prevalent with the migrant farm workers and our close proximity to the Mexican border. However, I never knew that the language barrier was as present as it is until I began working my junior year. At my interview, one of the questions was “Do you speak Spanish?” I answered no and thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until two weeks into my employment that I quickly became aware of the language barrier I had with a majority of customers. I honestly have to say that almost half of the time I have been approached by customers I haven’t been able to converse with them at all due to their lack of knowledge of the English language. One of the things I find even more frustrating is their attitude towards me because I do not understand them. Now I have taken three years of Spanish and can get the gist of a conversation at times, but I do not think that I should be expected to know what is being asked of me in Spanish, or any other language for that matter, at least while they are shopping at my place of employment within the 50 states of America.

If I were to move to France, I wouldn’t be able to go there and be successful if the only language I spoke was English, nor would I ever go to France, or any other foreign country for that matter, and expect them to speak English. Even if I were to be able to find an area of the country that speaks primarily English, it’d be ludicrous to not learn at least the basics of French. It should be no different in America – whether your native language is Spanish, French, German, Tagalog or Chinese you need to speak and comprehend English specifically if you are going to reside here.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt stated, “We have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality and not as dwellers in a polyglot boarding house.” I embrace the melting pot that America has become due to my Filipino heritage, but I want everyone who resides here to respect the fact that in America the citizens speak English and if they want to reside here, build a life, grow a family, open a business then they too need to embrace the unwritten official language of English because, in my eyes, it is a package deal.